State Workers Who Lost Union Representation Under Rauner Administration May Soon Regain It with New House Bill

By Benjamin Cox on May 7, 2021 at 9:52am

Hundreds of state workers who lost union representation under former Governor Bruce Rauner may soon get it back.

Senate Bill 525 says that decisions on whether public-sector workers should be classified as supervisory and thus not eligible for union protections should be based on actual job duties and not solely on written job descriptions passed last Thursday 44-11.

All 11 no votes came from Republicans including 55th District State Senator Darren Bailey, who is running for governor, and Quincy’s 47th District Republican State Senator Jil Tracy. Voting in favor of the bill included Democratic 48th District State Senator Doris Turner of Springfield and six Republican senators, including 50th District State Senator Steve McClure of Springfield.

The bill went to the House last Friday, where 72nd District Democrat Representative Mike Halpin of Rock Island is chief sponsor.

If passed by the House and signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker, the bill would allow organizations to petition the Illinois Labor Relations Board to make “hundreds” of state employees eligible again for union representation. The employees were stripped of the representation by appointments made by Rauner to the ILRB, overturning several decades of common Labor Board practice. Rauner argued at the time that illegal unionization of managers was costing state taxpayers money and disrupting operations in government.

The Illinois Department of Central Management Services is listed as opposed to the bill on the General Assembly’s website, but CMS spokeswoman Marjani Williams told the State Journal Register that the department has taken a neutral stance on the legislation. The legislation has received support from all of the state’s top unions including AFSCME, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and the Illinois AFL-CIO.